Sam Brooks rewatched Friends in its entirety. Ten seasons, 236 episodes, and as many cutesy episode titles. But what if those titles were just a bit more honest?
For a certain generation, Friends is an inescapable mainstay. I don’t think the show has ever left our screens since it started airing in 1994. Almost every night when I came home from school, I would switch on the TV at about 6:30 pm and there would be an episode of Friends. When the show was actually still running, there would be a rerun at 6:30 pm and then a new episode at 7:30 pm, with Shortland Street like a cleansing glass of water between two servings of junk food. An entire generation, give or take a few outliers, did a similar thing.
Friends is in our souls, it’s as much a part of us and who we are as our DNA or our weary, weary millennial bones. Watching it back over the summer break – in its entirety, because I make good use of my time – was a comforting yet chilling experience. Comforting because I’ve seen all these episodes, all 236, at least 10 times each. Watching them is like seeing an old friend: maybe they’ve chipped a tooth, maybe they still have that terrible hairstyle, but you still love them. You hug them close because you miss them, despite and maybe because of their flaws.
Chilling because I realised so many of my behaviours, my jokes, the ways I interact with my friends and loved ones, comes from a show that stars Lisa Kudrow, and not even the right one! (The right one would be, of course, the Lisa Kudrow in The Comeback).
Also chilling because, like me, the show has aged. And not as well as me, if I may be so bold. There’s a lot of gay jokes, there is almost no diversity, and some plots are stretched out way longer than you would need them to be, but it was the 90s so a season of television had to be about a billion episodes long.
Friends, along with Seinfeld, appears to have pioneered the themed-title episode. But where Seinfeld stuck to a simply ‘The’ construction, Friends got cute and gave them the sort of titles you’d use if you had to describe an episode to your loved ones, if you’re the kind of person who does that. So we ended up with titles like ‘The One With All The Thanksgivings’ or ‘The One With The Monkey’.
So after watching all these episodes, I’ve decided to give them honest titles, the titles you would use if you were describing them now, being honest about the characters and their defects, because there are many. Some of these titles are editorialising, many of them are showing my bias against the monster that is Ross. I do not apologise for that.
Ross is the worst.
The One With Approximately Nine Thousand Lesbian Jokes
The One Where Ross and Rachel Wildly Flout Laundromat Etiquette
The One Where Ross Kisses his Best Friend’s Mother, which is Gross
The One Where Joey’s Parents Emotionally Damage Him By Revealing Their Long-Term Infidelity To Him
The One Where Rachel Implausibly Does Not Have Health Insurance
The One Where Monica Has Sex With A Teenager
The One Where Chandler is Sexually Assaulted By A Tailor
The One Where Rachel Gaslights Ross With Bad Romantic Advice, Because She Is In Love With Him
The One Where Ross Cheats On His Girlfriend With Rachel, Starting Their Long-Term Toxic Relationship
The Weirdly Progressive One With a Lesbian Wedding in 1996
The One With Julia Roberts, Brooke Shields and Jean Claude Van Damme
The One Where Monica Starts An Inappropriate Relationship With Her Father’s Friend
The One Where Monica Has A Mature Discussion With Her Boyfriend About What They Want From A Relationship
The One Where Ross Enforces Gender Roles On His Son
The One That Is Racist Against Italians
The One Where Ross Jeopardises Rachel’s Job Because Of His Own Insecurities
The One Where Ross Sleeps With Someone Like An Hour After He Goes On A Break with Rachel, Which Is A Dick Move No Matter What Way You Look At It
The One Where Ross Tries to Gaslight Rachel But She Finds Out About It
The One Where Phoebe’s Brother Marries A Woman Who Definitely Molested Him
The One Where Chandler and Joey Imprison A Chicken and Duck Who Almost Certainly Should Not Live in An Apartment
The One Where Chandler Pees On Monica
The One Where Chandler Kisses His Best Friend’s Girlfriend
The One Where Monica Has Feelings For Her Ex’s Son
The One Where They Gamble On The Apartment And Is Secretly The Best Episode Of The Entire Series
The One Where Ross Proposes To A Woman Really Early in Their Relationship
The One Where Rachel Makes An Emotionally Mature Decision
The One Where They All Go To England and Ross Says The Wrong Name
The One Where Phoebe Engages With Really Complex Moral Philosophy
The One Where Ross is Fired For His Anger Issues
The One Where Everybody Finds Out About Monica and Chandler, Which is Maybe The Second Best Episode of The Show
The One Where Ross Buys A Couch And With One Word Ruins The Lives of Everybody Moving Post-1998
The One Where A Cop Pressures Phoebe Into Dating Him So He Won’t Arrest Her
The One Where Ross Sexually Harasses and Emotionally Abuses A Woman Who Delivers Him Pizza
The One Where Ross and Rachel Get Married, Continuing Their Long-Term Toxic Relationship
The One Where Ross Gaslights Rachel
The One Where Ross Tries to Get Rachel To Move In With Him, Despite Gaslighting Her
The One Where Rachel Finds Out She Is Being Gaslighted
The One Where Elle Macpherson Starts A Stupidly Long Guest Arc
The One With Reese Witherspoon
The One Where Ross Dates a Student, Which Is The Actual Name of This Episode
The One Where Rachel Goes On A Date With Ross’ Girlfriend’s Father, Thus Continuing Their Long-Term Toxic Relationship
The One Where Chandler Proposes to Monica And I Cried
The One Where Rachel Gets Insecure About Her Best Friend Getting All The Attention So She Makes Some Drama
The One Where Rachel Hires Someone She Is Sexually Attracted To, Setting Up An Unhealthy Working Environment
The One Where Rachel Embarks On A Relationship With Her Employee And Sets Up A Completely Fucked Up Power Dynamic
The One Where Monica Acts Completely Unreasonably At A Restaurant, Which Is Weird Because You Think A Head Chef Would Know How A Restaurant Works
The One Where Lisa Kudrow Acts With A Smoke Alarm And It’s The Funniest Thing On This Show In Ten Years
The One Where They All Have A Mid-Life Crisis At Thirty
The One Where Rachel Babysits Jughead From Riverdale
The One Where Jennifer Aniston Does This Little Head Shake That Still Breaks My Heart
The One Where Ross Films Rachel Without Her Consent
The One Where Monica Accuses Her Maid Of Stealing From Her, And Then Sexually Harasses Her
The One Where Rachel’s Dad Emotionally Abuses Her
The One Where Ross Moves In With His Ex-Wife He Got Pregnant And Doesn’t Tell His Girlfriend
The One That Appears To Have Dictated All My Relationships With My Friends After I’ve Told Them I’m In Love With Them
The One Where Rachel’s Mom Emotionally Abuses Her
The One Where Monica Takes A Cooking Class For Beginners To Deal With Her Crippling Self-Esteem Issues
The One Where Rachel Pressures Her Ex Into Having Sex With Her So She Can Go Into Labour
The One Where None of Phoebe’s Closest Friends Show Up To Her Birthday On Time
The One Where Ross Enforces Gender Roles On Freddie Prinze Jnr.
The One Where Ross Gaslights His Ex-Wife For The Billionth Time In Their Long Term Toxic Relationship
The One Where Rachel Finds Out She’s Being Gaslighted And Moves In With The Dude Who Proposed to Her Two Months Ago
The One Where Monica and Chandler Are Not Up Front With Each Other About Their Financial Difficulties
The One Where Ross Throws His Own Funeral Because Ross Is The Worst
The One Where Ross Starts Dating His Best Friend’s Girlfriend The Same Day They Break Up
The One Where Monica Gets Her Hair Braided
The One Where Phoebe Takes Her Children’s Charity Donation Back
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The One Where Monica and Chandler’s Friends Act Like Them Moving House is The Worst Thing Ever
The One With The Worst Plot In The Series, Where Joey Tries to Learn French and Can Only Make Random Sounds
The One Where Rachel Says Goodbye To Everybody And They All Act Like She’s Dying
The One With The Best Payoff To The Regina Phalange Joke (Also The Finale)
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